A Fort Lauderdale Water Damage Attorney Can Help You When You Need It Most
In Fort Lauderdale, homeowners must deal with the risk of storms and rainy weather. Water damage and flood damage are a natural consequence of these risks. However, not all homeowners policies provide coverage for these types of damages. Even when the homeowner has purchased separate coverage for these perils, the insurance carrier may still make it difficult to collect an adequate amount on the insurance claim. If your insurance carrier has delayed, denied or tried to underpay your water damage claim, you need a Fort Lauderdale water damage attorney in your corner. The property damage lawyers at the Maus Law Firm have the knowledge, skills and experience to assert your rights as a policyholder.
Examples of Florida Water & Flood Damage Claims
Fort Lauderdale homeowners make a variety of insurance claims for water and flood damage to their homes. The following are the most common types of claims:
▪ Water Damage From Weather Events: This type of water damage results from hurricanes or other storms, rising waters and heavy rains. The covered damage may be due to leaks or water that has intruded into the home, such as through a broken window. However, not all policies cover water damage. In addition, certain types of damage are only covered by flood insurance, as outlined below under Flood Damage.
▪ Flood Damage: To be financially protected against flood damage, a Florida homeowner will typically need to purchase a separate flood insurance policy. Even if they have flood insurance, the homeowner’s policy may not provide the type of coverage they need. For example, mold and mildew damage are common after flooding, but many flood insurance policies do not cover these types of damage.
▪ Other Water Damage: Most homeowners policies will cover water damage that is not weather-related. The most common types of damages in this category arise from plumbing issues, such as a leak or broken pipe.
Coverage issues can become very complex when there is both water damage and flood damage. Since water and flood damage are generally covered under separate policies, each policy will have different deadlines and requirements for making claims. It is also possible that the water damage carrier may contend that the claimed damage was due to flooding, while the flood insurance carrier may contend it was water damage.
Due to the complexities of this area and the potential need for analysis of separate policies, a Fort Lauderdale water damage attorney should be consulted early in the claims process.
Why Do Property Insurance Companies Deny Water and Flood Claims?
There are many reasons that property insurance companies deny claims for water and flood damages. The following are the most common reasons:
▪ Damage Due to Flooding, Not Water Damage: Most homeowners insurance policies will not cover flooding, even if they cover water damage. This is why homeowners need to purchase separate flood policies. Water damage due to erosion or runoff is often considered to be flood damage.
▪ Damage Due to Water, Not Flooding: On the other hand, flood insurance carriers will often deny coverage on the grounds the damage is actually non-covered water damage. For example, there may be questions as to whether the damage is due to heavy rain or flooding.
▪ Water Damage from a Long-term Cause: Many carriers deny claims because they contend the water damage is long-term damage caused by the homeowner’s failure to adequately maintain the property. As an example, the carrier may claim water damage is from a water leak that was not repaired soon enough or the carrier may contend that the homeowner’s failure to maintain the temperature inside the home caused mold damage or a burst pipe.
Even if the insurance company does not deny the claim outright, they may delay processing or payment. The carrier might also offer a low payment amount to satisfy the claim.
Water Damage in a Florida Condo? Here are Your Options
Condo water damage and condo storm claims can get complicated for two main reasons. The first reason is the simple design of a condo building where you have different units owned by different owners is such close proximity to each other. Usually when you have water damage in a condo or condo storm damage to one unit, there is a good likelihood that it spreads to one or more nearby condos. Insurance for water damage or storm damage usually requires an evaluation of the type of insurance coverage that exists, and the limits of coverage. And, if there is not enough insurance proceeds to cover the water damage in all the condo units, you may need to look to the condo association insurance coverage, or to your own homeowner condo insurance coverage.
Another issue to consider is whether an individual condo owner’s insurance is responsible for your damage, or whether the water damage is related to a long term maintenance issue such as a leaking pipe. The condo association’s insurance coverage should cover most “maintenance” issues, however it is sometimes difficult to determine whether your condo water damage occurred from a “maintenance” issue, or whether it is a sudden, accidental loss. Take the example of a 15 year old water heater that starts to leak water causing damage to several condo units. While the leak itself was probably sudden, it resulted from a long term failure to maintain the unit.
In evaluating a condo water damage claim or condo storm damage lawsuit, you also need to closely review the condominium bylaws and documents to determine where the common areas are, and who is responsible for maintaining the common areas. Florida Statute §718.111(11) requires a condominium insurance policy to cover all condo property within the unit including the walls, windows and window treatments, electrical and appliances, water heaters and ceilings.
Condo water damage claims become complicated because not all damage occurs on the inside of the condo; much of water damage that leaks between units may involve the floors, ceilings and walls of several unit. It’s best to consult a Fort Lauderdale water damage attorney to help you pursue your claim.
How Can a Fort Lauderdale Water Damage Attorney Help?
When an insurance carrier fails to pay your insurance claim in a timely manner, you are encouraged to seek legal help. A Fort Lauderdale water damage attorney can assist in the following ways:
▪ Communication With the Insurance Company: Your attorney can communicate with the insurance carrier on your behalf. This will save a homeowner a great deal of stress and aggravation. In addition, the attorney will know the right questions to ask the carrier to speed the process along.
▪ Handling the Claims Process: Making insurance claims for water or flood damage is a complex process. For example, the policy in question will provide many deadlines and guidelines for issues such as the proper methods of presenting proof of loss. The process becomes even more complex when different policies are involved for the same or similar types of damage, such as water damage and flood damage caused by a storm. This is why it is better to have your attorney deal with the entire process to ensure your rights under the policy are protected and enforced.
▪ Negotiation of Claim Settlement: Negotiating the payment amount is another important role for your lawyer. An experienced water damage attorney can assess how much your property damage is worth. In addition, the attorney can assess the strength of any legal defenses the carrier has to providing coverage and paying the claim.
▪ Legal Action: If your lawyer is unable to obtain a favorable amount of compensation, he or she may file a lawsuit on your behalf against the insurance carrier. Many times, taking the carrier to court is the only way to fully recover the amount you are owed.
Meet With a Fort Lauderdale Water Damage Attorney at the Maus Law Firm Today
If your property insurance carrier is denying or delaying your claim for water or flood damage, contact the Maus Law Firm right away to speak with a Fort Lauderdale water damage attorney. Even if the carrier is offering money, but the amount is low, you should consult our law firm. For a confidential consultation, contact the Maus Law Firm so that we can assess the facts of your insurance claim and help you chart the best path forward. Call us at 855-999-5297.